With the Rugby Championship all but won by the All Blacks, BJ Botha believes it is time for the Springboks to bring a sense of adventure into their gameplan.
It was a disappointing loss to the All Blacks last weekend, but I do think there are some positives to take out of the game and believe we have seen that when our forwards dominate, the current gameplan can work.
I think we saw the rewards of the gameplan in some parts of the match, but the reality is that In Test rugby those margins between winning and losing are so small. The momentum of three points is huge in a Test match. The fact is you have worked hard to get into the opposition 22, to work yourself into kicking position, you haven’t scored a try, but you have put the team under immense pressure.
To get those three points is a reward that picks you up, provides you with momentum and motivation to continue doing what you are doing. When those opportunities are missed, it’s tough, it’s a change of momentum when the side is let off without conceding any points and that can actually lift them.
Going forward, I think technically we still have a chance in the Rugby Championship, but that would mean the All Blacks losing the remainder of their games, so it would be a heck of a stretch. But the big thing for me is that we really need to start getting some combinations going and give them some time together now.
I do think we need to be a little bit more adventurous and to put a few guys out there and give them some game-time. We haven’t really seen that on tour, where we have played things pretty safe. We need to get something going forward – people are asking questions and are not as confident in the combinations we have at the moment.
We are playing at home and can grab a huge amount of confidence from our supporters – the team will want to give them something to carry us along.
Players need to play
It’s an interesting situation that the guys find themselves in this week with the bye in the Rugby Championship. I see that a couple of the fringe players won’t be getting any game-time this weekend and I think they are personally screaming for it!
That management of players and game-time is going to be very important this week.
Players that need game-time before the Test next week, they have this window period, guys like Johan Goosen and Pat Lambie, you would have hoped that they get some game time, but that isn’t going to happen…
We might see one or two personnel changes in the Springbok team next week – I don’t think they will be massive changes – and hopefully some of the guys who have been on the fringes of selection can get their opportunity at home now. It will be interesting to see if Heyneke opts to be adventurous or instead makes minimal changes and backs what he has been doing throughout the Championship.
Resting Goosen and Lambie may hint at his selection policies for next week – will they be starting? You want to look after the guys that you need for the weekend, but from a player’s perspective, playing rugby is the best form of preparation you can have – both physically and mentally.
Giving guys 20-30 minutes of Currie Cup action will bode very well for the following weekend, particularly the guys who haven’t had much game time. I think on that part it is a bit unfair and expecting a bit much from the players who will be coming in a little cold. Lambie and Goosen are prime examples of players who have not been playing…
You may want to argue that Currie Cup is a big step down from Test rugby, but playing with the ball in hand, being put under pressure, attacking, defending, that is what they need and it will only bode well for them. The only worry in the back of the coach’s mind would be injury, but that can happen at any point.
The fact is that they will be another week behind in terms of playing. They have the ideal chance being at home to get some game-time under their belt – fitness outside of the actual game does nothing compared to being out on the park in a real game situation. I don’t know what the communication has been between the unions and SA rugby, but I am sure they will be wanting their players back when they are available.
I do think they are doing them a little bit of a disservice now, particularly if they will only be warming the bench next week. If they start, I would think they would have liked some time to get their confidence up as they haven’t had much meaningful rugby in a while now.